There may be loads of country artists out there these days, but few capture both a sophisticated, polished yet authentic sound quite like Autumn Hill.
The gifted duo plays Cowboy’s Bar and Nightclub on Nov. 8th.
On their debut, Favourite Mistake, Tareya Green and Mike Robins tell stories of loss and love from two perspectives and ‘build soaring pop on a strong Nashville foundation.’
Opening cut Can’t Keep Waiting draws listeners in with its hooky, irresistible chorus and superb musicianship.
If She Wants This Town also highlights the pair’s ability to harmonize – which is the perfect overlay for a solid musical foundation. Anything at All continues to reflect their knack for crafting catchy, modern country tunes as does other gems such as Fire, and a lovely acoustic version of Anything at All.
Green and Robins took very different roads towards an unexpected common goal.
Green, who had studied graphic design in Calgary, was developing web sites for entertainers and feeling, she says, “Like I was on the wrong side of the glass.
“It was a pretty cool job, but I always felt like I wanted to be doing what the artists and musicians were doing.”
As a girl she developed a passion for songwriting, playing the piano while singing into an empty coffee can she’d rigged to her bedroom ceiling for reverb.
“I got the love of music from my dad – he used to just sit for hours with headphones on, or playing music in the house. I definitely grew up listening to music and singing – even if it was just in my bedroom.”
She eventually began posting performances on YouTube, and when Wax Records co-founder Jamie Appleby heard her vocals he invited her to Toronto.
In January of 2012, packing little more than her guitar and her keyboard, she made a leap of faith across the country. Upon arrival in Toronto, plans soon took shape to begin working on a solo CD. “It was very out of character for me to actually pursue that – I’m kind of a more shy person.”
Then she met Robins, who had begun working with Wax as well. When they first played together, he started harmonizing with Green on a song they’d been writing for her then solo project and something clicked.
“We stopped playing and turned around,” she recalls. “And everyone was like, ‘That’s it!’
That song, Favourite Mistake, went on to become the title track from their debut CD which was released last year. “There were just ideas flying like crazy. There was instant chemistry.
“And as soon as we wrote Favourite Mistake, it was just go, go, go. It happened so quickly. It was like the path was there and we just sort of jumped on the right track.”
Over the next six months, they made several trips to Nashville, working with a who’s who of songwriters, and recording tracks with producer Dave Thomson.
Being in ‘Music City’ was a rich experience all its own. “There is music pouring out of every bar – and it sounds so good you would thinks it’s the radio. The standards are crazy there, and the talent is literally like nothing you have ever heard or seen. You feel humbled and like you learn so much everyday. There is just something about Nashville.”
Returning to Toronto with a suitcase full of roughed-in songs, they began fleshing them out with producer Tawgs Salter.
Absorbing the influences of both producers led to a fresh, unique sound. “When they collided it just became this really cool sound that kind of became the Autumn Hill sound.”
The band went on to releasee three top 20 country hits Anything At All, Can’t Keep Waiting and Fire which landed a number one video on CMT. They also earned a CCMA nomination for ‘Rising Star’ and performed at major country festivals across Canada.
Growing up outside Toronto, Robins listened to his father’s classic-rock collection and decided he wanted to be Jimi Hendrix.
He gigged throughout high school and university as a singer/songwriter and frontman, and eventually his skills landed him a spot in 2010 backing up singer/songwriter Hope on a year-long tour through North America and Europe.
He also worked with producers on his own solo songs, first in Los Angeles and then in Nashville. There, a newfound passion for country guitar led to the 2011 solo single No Mercy, which topped the Adult Contemporary chart on music-streaming service I Heart Radio.
These days, the duo is working on material for a new CD – with a tentative release set for next spring. “To think that we get to do this professionally and to be embraced by the country community – it’s a dream come true. This is truly a charmed time in my life and I’m so grateful,” she said.
And she’s thankful for her partner. “Harmony for us, for some reason, come very naturally. There are similar tones in our voices that we’d never really heard before. He also has an intensity and a passion. I would consider myself to be a pretty intense, passionate person and he literally matches me on that level.
“I think we balance each other out in a way that’s very complementary and we keep each other going. And at the end of the day, when exciting things happen or disappointing things happen, there is someone there experiencing the exact same thing. It’s so nice.”